Slaughter, John Bunyan (1848–1928)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

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John Bunyan Slaughter, rancher, the fourth son of Sarah (Mason) and George Webb Slaughter, was born on December 15, 1848, in Sabine County, Texas. His family moved to Palo Pinto County in 1857. He spent much of his boyhood on a cow pony working for his father and his older brother, Christopher C. Slaughter. In 1866 he accompanied them as a cowboy on a drive up what became the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas. John proved his mettle the third day out by taking charge of the trail herd, at the cowboys' request, after Indians had murdered the previous boss and a companion near Victoria Peak in Montague County. Throughout the early 1870s Slaughter endured more scrapes with Indians, including one in which he was seriously wounded. In 1877 Slaughter married May Burris, and eventually he and his brother William B. Slaughter formed a partnership and acquired range in Crosby County. For the next three years he and Bill bought cattle in Texas, drove them to the Kansas markets, and sold them at a profit. May died in childbirth in Dallas in 1879; the baby also died. In July 1880 Slaughter married Isabella (Belle) Masten May. He brought her to the ranch homestead he and Bill had built on Scallowag (Home) Creek in Crosby County out of lumber hauled from Fort Worth. The couple had three children. In 1883 Slaughter moved his family to Colorado City before selling the Crosby County ranch to the Espuela Land and Cattle Company (see SPUR RANCH), and moving his cattle to a spread in Socorro County, New Mexico. After selling this ranch and dissolving his partnership with Bill in 1886, he ranched for a time on the Green River in Utah, and then in eastern New Mexico near the Texas line, before acquiring 160 sections in Glasscock County in 1890. For the next eight years Slaughter averaged 6,000 head of U Lazy S cattle there while maintaining his home and headquarters in Colorado City, where he served as vice president of the People's National Bank. In 1898 he moved his family to Fort Worth, where he built a large home; he also disposed of his Glasscock County holdings after moving the cattle to leased lands in Borden and Garza counties. In 1901 Slaughter purchased the Square and Compass Ranch from the Nave-McCord Cattle Company. Soon afterward he sold the family home in Fort Worth and built a spacious ranchhouse out of lumber freighted from Colorado City. When Charles W. Post laid out the town of Post in 1906, Slaughter sold 47,749 acres to him for that purpose. Slaughter died on November 11, 1928, of an apparent heart attack. After funeral services at the ranchhouse, his body was shipped by rail to Fort Worth for burial in the family mausoleum in East Oakwood Cemetery.

Mary Whatley Clarke, The Slaughter Ranches and Their Makers (Austin: Jenkins, 1979). James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). Garza County Historical Survey Committee, Wagon Wheels: A History of Garza County, ed. Charles Didway (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1973). Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Slaughter, John Bunyan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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